When I first “discovered” Sam and Rev in September 2019, they were three months into their first Great Loop and just starting on their YouTube adventure. They had a whopping 613 subscribers hoping to reach 1000! Today? 10.9 THOUSAND subscribers. [Sam tells me they get ~8 subscribers a day, so that 10.9 will be 11 in short order.] I would say they definitely have reached “influencer” status.
They have certainly influenced us! Lance and I make a habit to keep an eye out for each of their new videos. I get their newsletters. The winter of 2020/2021, while their boat was in winter storage, we joined in the monthly live Q&A sessions. When they launched a paid product shortly after the end of loop one, Lance used some of his monthly “blow money” to subscribe to the docktales and docking videos. That platform didn’t work out, so those didn’t last long, but they have a brand-new product now. I’ll let Sam and Rev describe it below.
In that original September 2019 post, I was mostly interested in the pre-loop stuff: How did they get to a financial position to be able to do the loop? In one of their first blog posts they described how they did it: they saved up and they downsized houses. Since then they have gone “all in”, as in selling the remaining lake house and basically living on the boat.
One of the things I appreciated about their first loop were the stats and financial updates on their loop. It is really helpful to those of us in the planning stages.
But enough about the past…here is what they are up to now!
In Sam & Rev’s own words:
Well, it has been an interesting and never dull adventure. We covered some new water on our second loop, stayed at different places and faced new challenges. We continued to Repair, Upgrade and Maintain (our R.U.M. formula) the Here’s To Us!!.
And, we continued to video each and every trip. We answered 10s of thousands of comments, emails, and messages from folks who followed us, signed up for our twice monthly newsletter, and met us along the way. They asked for more content, so we really thought deeply about their needs. The bottom line was they were looking for answers; in particular how to go about planning for this type of epic adventure. We remember that exciting but overwhelming feeling. We wanted to help them, but we could not do it for free on top of providing YouTube content. We needed find a way to balance time and energy.
The main challenge was to provide value to aspiring loopers. We felt that the purpose (mission) of What Yacht To Do was “inspire, motivate, and educate” people to tackle the loop. Based on analyzing the mass of comments, emails and messages, we felt that focusing on “educating” was the best. We had been asked by people to do training on their boat and in-person sessions. But, we did not feel that was scalable given the time commitment involved.
So, after brainstorming, analyzing and praying about it, we felt that we could reach more people with online courses. Some of our most successful videos were our FAQ, How To and Update presentations. The search was on for the best method, technology and platform to integrate our current processes and content. In mid-2021, we found and tested a platform that was responsive, fit our needs, and we forged ahead. As Brenda reported, we already knew the kind of platform that DID NOT work for us, so we had some experience of What Not To Do!
Once we knew and understood the platform, we created content around a four-step, logical process. By categorizing the thousands of questions, four main categories stood out: The Journey, The Boat, The Crew and Living Aboard.
In December of 2021, we launched our first course on the new platform and were pleased with the results. At the time of this writing, we have three of the four courses in pre-launch. While it is a challenge getting these ready along with producing the normal travel videos, we are excited at the opportunity to reach and help more people.
We know it can be quite a project to properly plan, prepare and start the loop. So, we focus on taking it in a natural progression. Understanding and planning the Journey (your loop, your way), selecting a Boat that is compatible with your loop (or if you already have one, optimizing it), knowing what you will need to do to get ready as a Crew, and finally what life is like Living Aboard. This last category also includes what you do to manage the life you left behind while you are on the loop (whether you have a house or sold it).
We also started outsourcing our merchandise by partnering with a family-run company. That allows us to focus on our core competencies and mission. We know about boating, but not a whole lot about tee shirts, hats and apparel, so we have our brand being handled by people who do that for a living.
As far as finances go, the expenses on our second loop are very similar in nature to our first loop. We cover that in detail in our online courses; in particular, the size of the boat as a major cost factor in determining expenses on the loop. So, that is locked in for us: 50 feet as you can see in the Tour Our Carver 504 video. There are many ways to do the loop – from frugal to fancy. Like most, we are somewhere in between. We are blessed to have the choice. We did sell our house toward the end of the first loop, so those upkeep expenses are gone and we put the house proceeds in a conservative, safe investment under the auspices of our financial advisor, Paul who has helped keep our financial ship in shape.
The video effort has been a passion for us since we both have a background in education. Rev is a retired educator and curriculum administrator. Sam spent most of his career flying airplanes and instructing in the air and on the ground. So, we do try to put out the best product possible. At the end of each course is a course survey. Those taking the courses also get a Certificate of Completion that shows the number of hours for each course. Some of the participants asked for the hours to be included on the certificate, as they can get credit for personal enrichment from their employers.
So, we continue to evaluate and improve. We invested in new equipment for videoing, and of course more storage in the cloud; now in the multiple terabyte range! Rev has really upped the game on video quality.
What will we do once we finish the second loop? That is the question and it has varying answers each day it is asked. Quite a few are urging us to go again. Will we? Will we sell the boat? Buy another? We won’t really know until we are finished, but plan to spend the summer in the Chesapeake Bay area, explore that, unwind and continue to work on courses to help loopers and boaters. We also look forward to designing and building a retirement home on the property we purchased last year. We have tentatively elected a designer and a builder so there is that exciting challenge ahead as well.
For more information go to www.WhatYachtToDo.com Sign up for the twice monthly newsletter for travel updates, the inside scoop on the loop and our tips.